I love birthdays. Not so much my own (eek, I’m getting old!), but I love celebrating birthdays with others, especially when I can give them something that makes their eyes light up. Everyone always says, “it’s the thought that counts,” and I do believe that’s true! Anyone can buy a gift, but it takes real love to take the time to make something from the heart or put something together that’s not pre-made.
Today is my dear, sweet, beautiful mother’s (hi Mom ) birthday. A while back, she found a silly picture on the web of a dog sitting with a bunch of dog-shaped cupcakes that she adored. I thought I’d recreate that for her with mini versions of our own mutts, immortalized in cake and sugary, buttery icing. What could be better?!
The cupcakes themselves (which kind of get overlooked here) are moist, buttery and almond-tastic. I was short on time yesterday so I used a doctored-up cake mix recipe, but they turned out fabulous. The recipe made 12 regular-sized cupcakes and 24 minis, but if you’re using it to make all regular-sized cupcakes it would make 24. The frosting is a vanilla buttercream from Rosie at Sweetapolita that I use often; it’s silky smooth and so easy to whip up and work with! The frosting is the same for both pupcakes, it’s just been colored tan for the terrier version.
Vanilla Almond Cupcakes
Source: Gimme Some Oven
Yield: 24 cupcakes (or 12 regular + 24 minis)
1 (18.25 oz.) white cake mix
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups (or 12, and 24 minis) with paper liners.
2. Add the cake mix, buttermilk, oil, almond extract and vanilla to a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed until moistened, about 30 seconds. Add eggs one at a time, until the batter is well-mixed. Increase speed to high and beat until thick and fluffy, 2 minutes longer.
3. Pour or scoop the batter into the paper liners until they are 2/3 full. Bake regular-sized cupcakes for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Minis will need to bake for 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool on a wire rack.
Bakery-Style Vanilla Frosting
Adapted from: Sweetapolita
Yield: enough to frost 24 cupcakes
3 sticks (340 grams/12 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
5 cups (625 grams/22 ounces) confectioners’ sugar (icing, powdered)
1 tablespoon (15 mL) pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter for 5 minutes on medium speed (I use “4″ on my KitchenAid). Butter will become very pale and creamy.
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 5 minutes. Frosting will be very light, creamy, and fluffy.
3. Add touch of gel food colour, if desired and mix until blended.
4. Best used right away.
So our Norfolk Terrier’s name is Ajax; he’s kind of a crotchety old grouch, even though he’s only three years old. He loves the sun, hot dogs, and going for walks. He hates sharing, the word “shower,” and baby gates. He also has a love/hate relationship with car rides. He’s a spoiled little guy who is lately not so “little” and probably should cut back on the hot dogs and bump up the intensity of his walks!
Our other dog is a mutt (Mom says “designer dog,” I say mutt!) named Loki, he’s half Lhasa Apso and half Bichon Frise. He is the sweetest, cuddliest, and dopiest dog I’ve ever been around. He’s like a ragdoll; any position you put him in, he’ll stay in…as long as you continue to pet him. His underbite makes him, in my opinion, simultaneously hideous and endearing. But he was, without a doubt, born to be a loverboy.
…please excuse the fact that both dogs are in need of a good grooming
Anyways, the cupcakes were a big hit! They are time consuming, especially if you’re a perfectionist like me, but I think that the end result is totally worth it. The tutorial I used is from the book Hello, Cupcake! and is actually pretty simple. The head is constructed from a mini cupcake and marshmallows, and then just placed on top of the frosted-cupcake body. I found another site that has step-by-step photos and instructions, similar to the way I did my version.
I wonder what Ajax and Loki thought of their look-alikes. I think mostly they just wanted to eat them. But hey, they have good taste.